Agency Of The Year -- The Next Big Thing: Publicis' Insight Factory

Four heads are better than one

Effective advertising means maximizing touchpoints between the brand and the consumer. Effective collaboration means minimizing touch points between the client and its agency partners. Unfortunately, these rules are as easy to understand as they are hard to execute, which is why we'll be keeping a close eye on the Insight Factory - a highly ambitious, hydra-headed effort by Publicis Groupe, which isn't expected to become operational until early next year.

Acting as a "central services operation," the Factory will aggregate the tools and resources of Leo Burnett, Starcom MediaVest Group, Digitas and Arc. Publicis describes the new structure as an "open architecture" model drawing on the assets and key personnel from its top units, with "no default lead" in the process.

Jack Klues, the chairman of Publicis' media operations - who began his career in Burnett's media department - is chairing a new management board to oversee the process. Other stars on the board include SMG global CEO Renetta McCann, Burnett chairman-CEO Tom Bernardin and Digitas chairman-CEO David Kenny.

The Burnett and Arc teams will contribute creative, research, market segmentation and planning, production and database management. SMG will add media behavioral insights, media research and some digital production resources. And Digitas will offer creative, brand navigation, digital insights, dashboard management systems, digital production and technology development. Though untested, Insight Factory as a concept is both intriguing and necessary, according to Arthur Anderson, a principal at Morgan Anderson Consulting. "The agency model needs to be reinvented," he says.

"Specialization is useless unless it can be efficiently combined with other areas of specialization."

Anderson points specifically to Procter & Gamble's recent efforts to establish a single touch point between its brands and their partner agencies. "Now, P&G wants to arrange compensation through a single designated agency," Anderson says. "That alone might have been enough to persuade Publicis to restructure."

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